Performance testing is critical in ensuring that an exceptional user experience is delivered. That’s

because executing this phase of testing correctly will provide you and your team with a real

understanding of the responsiveness and stability of your system under a particular workload. It can

help you plan your IT strategy around the peaks and troughs in your business cycle so that you are

always available to customers. Do it wrong and your brand may just be the next unlucky sufferer of

bad press, or worse yet, a catastrophic systems failure.


This leads us to the question, how do you ensure you do performance testing right? Below are our

three key principles to adopt:


1. Know your users and know your system

Our first point is more of a warning: when user experience is discussed the focus is almost always on

the physical interaction with the system rather than the holistic experience of overall solution

capability. Of course the ergonomics of the user interface and the actual business functionality are

key but ultimately to get the right user experience in the live system it is critical to test against

realistic workloads. The point is that the user experience design is based on assumptions and

theories; proving those theories right is what ultimately what testing has to achieve but this can only

be done from the holistic perspective.


2. Simplicity equals complexity

Understand this paradox and you have a great foundation for success. Everything we do from a user

experience perspective is about making things simple and intuitive. However to do that we have to

build a significant amount of intelligence into the system and that creates significant complexity

compounds the workload effort. This complexity is increased with the push to the cloud: the

promise of flexibility at the technical level creates significant problems for the enterprise in terms of

technical complexity.


Infrastructure is cheap but the traditional solution to performance issues (“Let’s throw more tin at

it”) does not work because the environment is no longer isolated but part of a complex patchwork of

systems. The plethora of disparate platforms and web-based architectures puts real pressure on

performance testing: application tuning; infrastructure management; bandwidth – everything must

be tested in harmony with intelligence applied to ensure the system can manage the relevant



3. Swans abound

You need to sedate and smooth the transition to the production environment – a traditional hive of

activity. Today, that activity comes from the enormous increase in data flow volumes enterprises

have experienced over recent years. Most organisations do not know how to deal with the data;

certainly they are struggling to get value from it – to process it to create insights for competitive

advantage. The transition to HANA is allowing SAP customers to simplify this process through the

integration of the transaction processing and data warehousing analysis in a single database but it

does mean that performance testing has to address this new architecture, understand the data flows

and ensuring the system can manage the appropriate workloads: and that is hard!


The approach used to be that a single set of tests run during the implementation phase would

suffice; now there has to be an iterative approach with a suite of tests, which can be run with ever

increasing frequency. This marriage of infrastructure, data and process is what is required to deliver

the desired result. Therefore performance testing must be done with a holistic approach. It is the

test strategy that takes into account the business process, technology and infrastructure to deliver

the ultimate goal: the memorable user experience